There aren’t a lot of big competitions for jobs in the Pirates’ Spring Training this year – just the fifth starter job and a couple of bullpen spots. And the bench, which will have three open spots behind Ryan Doumit and whichever of Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones isn’t playing in right field that day.
Garrett Atkins, who posted a pathetic .562 OPS for the Orioles last year, isn’t supremely qualified for one of those jobs, but he’s running drills with the Pirates’ infield starters early in Spring Training. The pluses with Atkins are that he can sort of play third base and first base, and that he was once a solid player with the Rockies. Unfortunately, his hitting has fallen off a cliff in the last few years, and the Pirates have several guys who are on the bubble of the 25-man roster who can either hit much better (Steve Pearce, John Bowker) or are far more useful defensively (Pedro Ciriaco, Corey Wimberly) or both (Josh Rodriguez). Atkins has a history with Clint Hurdle, his former manager in Colorado, and it’s certainly possible the Pirates know something I don’t, but from where I sit, he doesn’t deserve to make the team.